Top Ten Facts about Amended Returns

By | April 22, 2009

Taxpayers who need to make a change or adjustment on a return they already filed can do so by filing an amended return. You sign your federal income tax return under penalties of perjury.  That means it should be accurate and complete.If you discover an error after your return has been filed, you may need to amend your return. The IRS may correct errors in math on a return and may accept returns with certain forms or schedules left out. In these instances, do not amend your return! However, do file an amended return if there is a change in your filing status, income, deductions, or credits.


Top Ten Facts about Amended Returns

Be aware that you have three years to make any corrections that result in additional tax refunds. That’s because there’s a three-year statute of limitations on issuing tax refund checks. This three-year period is measured from the date you filed your original tax return. If you filed your return before April 15th, the three-year period begins from April 15th. If you requested an extension, the three-year period runs from October 15th (Internal Revenue Code section 6511(b)(2)(A)).


Here are the top 10 things every taxpayer should know about amending your federal tax return.

  1. Taxpayers needing to amend their return use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
  2. Taxpayers can use Form 1040X to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. The 1040X can also be used to correct a return filed electronically.
  3. Taxpayers should file an amended return if they discover any of the following items were reported incorrectly: filing status, dependents, total income, deductions or credits.
  4. Generally, you do not need to file an amended return for math errors as the IRS will be ale to make the correction for you.
  5. You also do not usually need to file an amended return because you forgot to include forms – such as W-2s or schedules – when you filed; the IRS normally requests those forms from you.
  6. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X. Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  7. If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them in separate envelopes to the IRS processing center for the area in which you live. The 1040X instructions list the addresses for the centers.
  8. If the changes involve another schedule or form, attach it to the 1040X.
  9. If you are filing to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund before filing Form 1040X. You may cash that check while waiting for any additional refund.
  10. If you owe additional tax for 2008, you should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to limit interest and penalty charges. Interest is charged on any tax not paid by the due date of the original return, without regard to extensions.


Amended Tax Returns and Audits

The IRS rarely brings up an originally filed return in civil audits or in criminal prosecutions once the taxpayer has come forward and attempted to correct it by filing an amended return.  However, to take advantage of this rule, you need to make the correction before the IRS finds your error. If you do file an amended return, you can’t cherry-pick and make only those corrections that get you money back, but not those that increase your tax liability.  You must correct everything so you can sign under penalties of perjury.

Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
Form 1040X Instructions

Tax Topic 308 — Amended Returns

Amended tax returns have to be mailed to the IRS on paper for manual processing. The IRS typically processes an amended return about 8 to 12 weeks, but this process can take longer during the IRS’s busiest times.

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